Every business today is looking to improve on the ROI of its online marketing. From placing more compelling ads, to strengthening the return on specific marketing initiatives, to increasing customer conversions... getting customers to go from the click to the buy is the real endgame for most marketers.

The explosion of search engine marketing (SEM) has made getting potential customers to Web sites even easier—but what about the journey of visitors once they're arrived on your Web site?

Imagine if marketers could be clairvoyants, knowing which pages were most effective in getting a customer to make a purchase, whether a particular campaign is what drove the visit, or which search terms were most effective in driving site visits. Well, the good news is that marketers can be, as even the most basic analytics programs will do all of that and then some.

However, marketers need to really look at the analytics solutions that they are using, as most of the products in the marketplace today are really one-size-fits-all companies, whether you are selling to consumers or businesses. Firms that concentrate on business-to-business (B2B) sales have a different set of needs than those that target consumers; marketers need to know what industries are responding to the message, the size of the companies, and where the clicks are coming from to optimize ad campaigns.

At the same time, companies are realizing that in today's competitive business environment, marketers must go beyond the status quo of a Web site that acts like an e-brochure if they are to induce user behavior and enter the world of opportunity outside of counting visitors and click-throughs—a world where your company understands visitor intent and needs, how and why visitors are interacting with your site, and what will most swiftly and effectively encourage a sale.

And that's where the real clairvoyance makes its entrance, combining art and science to understand your customers and maximize your marketing mix. While analytics are definitely a starting point, B2B firms need to move beyond that to turn their Web sites into a lead-generation tool.

Roll up your sleeves, it's time to get started

Most savvy marketers understand Web analytics at a basic level: using the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of Internet data to optimize Web site usage. However, that's often where the activities end, and many have yet to realize what analytics can deliver to monitor and supercharge marketing campaigns.

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Chris Golec is the founder and CEO of Demandbase (www.demandbase.com), a technology company that enables B2B companies to turn Web traffic into sales. Reach Demandbase via info@demandbase.com and 415-683-2660.